Yesterday was a busy day for us working on the Stagecoach Heritage Fleet book, but we can now reveal further details of the Abellio (Dutch Railways) plans for ScotRail franchise, which was announced yesterday. The deal starts in April next year and runs for seven years with an option for a further three years. New trains are part of the deal, as is a fleet of refurbished HSTs. This will not be the first time that Mk3s have been used on domestic ScotRail services – under BR the Glasgow-Edinburgh service was relaunched with Mk3 coaches, a Mk2 driving vehicle and a dedicated fleet of push-pull Class 47/7s. Today the route is operated by Class 170 Turbostar DMUs, with an increased frequency.
Under Abellio's plans the Edinburgh-Glasgow route will benefit from new trains from December 2017. DMUs operating on other key inter city routes in Scotland will benefit from the allocation to the operator of a fleet of refurbished HSTs from December 2018. These will provide an enhanced onboard service including catering and offer more toilets, luggage space and cycle accommodation as well as a ‘proper’ First Class offer for business travellers. Abellio says that there will be improved journey times and connectivity between Scotland’s key cities, however increases in journey times are likely to be constrained by track speeds. Jeff Hoogesteger, CEO of Abellio Group, said “Abellio is delighted and incredibly excited to have been given this opportunity to manage Scotland’s national rail network. For two years our team has been on a journey across Scotland and met people from the Borders, across the seven cities and to the very peak of the Far North Line so that we could prepare a plan that would meet and exceed the expectations of the Scottish Government.“ We look forward to delivering significant new benefits for passengers under the next franchise. Highlights will include new trains between Glasgow and Edinburgh, upgraded intercity services, better connectivity and journey times, innovative new fares, major station investments, a £1m community rail programme, and an employee gain share scheme.” Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK added, “We would like to congratulate Transport Scotland on a transparent and extremely robust procurement process underpinned by a very clear vision of the role of the next franchise in driving long term socio-economic development. Abellio’s record of collaborative, partnership working rests at the heart of our commitment to deliver that vision.“ With a population of 5.3 million and 82.5 million passenger journeys a year on ScotRail not once did we underestimate the challenge of delivering a high quality service to existing passengers while encouraging more people to use the network.” Abellio also plans to introduce standard fares between any two Scottish cities starting at £5, with First Class fares starting at £7.50. Working with partners to attract international attention to the scenic beauty of Scotland’s railways with major upgrades to Scotland’s scenic trains to enhance the tourist experience: Specially refurbished trains to align seats with windows More luggage, cycle and ski storage Additional service to Oban in peak season A Tourist Ambassador and improved on board catering that showcases local Scottish produce Special events in the low season to attract customers